Several intracellular pathogens, including Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, require the virulence protein MgtC to survive within macrophages and to cause a lethal infection in mice. We now report that, unlike secreted virulence factors that target the host vacuolar ATPase to withstand phagosomal acidity, the MgtC protein acts on Salmonella's own F 1Fo ATP synthase. This complex couples proton translocation to ATP synthesis/hydrolysis and is required for virulence. We establish that MgtC interacts with the a subunit of the F1F o ATP synthase, hindering ATP-driven proton translocation and NADH-driven ATP synthesis in inverted vesicles. An mgtC null mutant displays heightened ATP levels and an acidic cytoplasm, whereas mgtC overexpression decreases ATP levels. A single amino acid substitution in MgtC that prevents binding to the F1Fo ATP synthase abolishes control of ATP levels and attenuates pathogenicity. MgtC provides a singular example of a virulence protein that promotes pathogenicity by interfering with another virulence protein.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)